All of those eerie similarities to last season can be put to rest for the Pahrump Valley High School football team.
It became clear Friday night that for the Trojans, 2019 is definitely not 2018.
While the start of Sunset League play after a week off a year ago was just the tonic the Trojans needed to turn around their season, this season it just brought more of the same, as a banged-up Pahrump Valley team could not handle Cheyenne running back Majae Madison during a 36-16 defeat in North Las Vegas.
When he had a hole to hit, Madison hit it. When he needed to break a tackle, he broke a tackle. The result was 14 carries for 234 yards and 4 touchdowns. The junior, who had not broken a run for more than 30 yards through six games for the Desert Shields (6-1, 2-0 Sunset), did that four times Friday night, including a 67-yard scamper early in the third quarter that made it 28-8 and basically sealed the win.
“He’s a really strong, legitimate running back,” Pahrump Valley coach Joe Clayton said. “It’s as simple as that. He runs hard, breaks tackles. We had a few more missed tackles than we had the last couple of games, but a lot of it was he’s kind of breaking tackles. We missed some we should have had, but he’s a good enough running back that he can break tackles.”
If Madison’s tackle-breaking ability would be on display later, his speed came through on the Desert Shields’ first play from scrimmage. After forcing a punt, Cheyenne took over on its own 35-yard line and immediately handed the ball to Madison, who raced 46 yards before being chased down by Pahrump Valley’s Henry Amaya. Three plays later, it was 6-0.
The Trojans (1-5, 0-1) answered with a strong 10-play, 50-yard drive fueled mostly by junior Tony Margiotta. In his first game since suffering a knee injury against Virgin Valley, Margiotta rushed eight times for 57 yards on the drive — an illegal block penalty cost Pahrump Valley 10 yards — and scored on an 8-yard run on fourth-and-1 on the first play of the second quarter. Kenny Delker’s 2-point conversion run gave the Trojans their only lead at 8-6.
Margiotta finished with 25 carries for 116 yards and 2 touchdowns.
“First game back for Tony, you can’t fault 116 yards,” Clayton said. “He’s a solid go-to guy.”
Margiotta paced a rushing attack that grinded out 253 yards. But when the other team has a guy getting 234, there could be a problem. And it didn’t take long for that problem to reappear.
Cheyenne came right back, and, after a 23-yard gain by Jason Black was wiped out by a holding penalty, promptly handed the ball back to Madison, who went wide to the right for a 38-yard score and a 14-8 Desert Shields lead.
The lead stretched to 22-8 after the next exchange of possessions. After Pahrump Valley turned over the ball on downs at its own 48, Cheyenne needed six plays — highlighted by a 33-yard pass from Devonte Armstrong to Rayvion Brown — to find the end zone, with Madison doing the honors from 2 yards out.
The Trojans made a game effort to score before the end of the half, with Roman Roberts hitting Andrew Avena for 23 yards and Avena running 17 yards to put them on the Cheyenne 18. But Black ended the threat with an interception in the end zone.
Any doubt as to the outcome was erased after each team’s first possession of the second half. The Trojans went three-and-out — although the Desert Shields might have gotten away with pass interference on Avena on third-and-11 — while the Desert Shields needed four plays to go 85 yards with Madison scoring on a 67-yard run, his longest of the season, to make it 28-8.
The Trojans again made it a two-score game on a drive that saw Delker carry twice for 21 yards, Avena break off a nifty 31-yard run sweeping left to the Cheyenne 1 and Margiotta score from there, but it took the home team three plays to answer after successfully fielding an onside kick. Black took a pitch and broke a couple of tackles for 19 yards, and Madison burst through a big hole on the left side of the Cheyenne line for a 35-yard score.
Avena finished with 133 all-purpose yards on just seven touches.
Clayton had praise for how hard his defense played.
“Fabian Soriano, I’ve got to give him a shout-out,” he said. “I watched on film, and this kid will take on the lead blocker and still make tackles on No. 2 (Madison). We ask a lot of these boys defensively, and Fabian Soriano is a tough, tough kid. He’s one of our strongest defenders.
“And Joaquin Souza, he just continually defensively works his butt off and makes plays, but you’ve got your hands full when you face a tough Cheyenne team with a running back like that.”
The Trojans will have to pick up the pieces again by Friday night when Del Sol (3-3, 1-0) makes the trip to Trojan Field, Clayton believes his players still have confidence and said he would not be surprised if they won out, an accomplishment which would give the Trojans the No. 2 seed in the Sunset and a home playoff game.
“We told them yesterday they’re a really good 1-5 team,” he said.
For more coverage, see Trojans Football Notebook at pvtimes.com
Desert Shields 36, Trojans 16
Pahrump Valley (1-5, 0-1) 0-8-8-0 — 16
Cheyenne (6-1, 2-0) 6-16-14-0 — 36
C — Brown 6 pass from Armstrong (pass failed)
PV — Margiotta 8 run (Delker run)
C — Madison 38 run (Armstrong run)
C — Madison 2 run (Brown pass from Armstrong)
C — Madison 67 run (pass failed)
PV — Margiotta 1 run (Margiotta run)
C — Madison 35 run (Brown pass from Armstrong)
Rushing: PV — Margiotta 25-116, Avena 4-75, Delker 9-30, Peugh 8-17, Roberts 2-10, Miller 1-5; C — Madison 14-234, Black 6-49, Armstrong 2-18, Diggs 2-(-2).
Passing: PV — Roberts 2-7-1-37; C — Armstrong 4-8-1-68.
Receiving: PV — Avena 2-37; C — Brown 2-39, Thompson 1-15, Chavez 1-14.